Yale '62 - Obituaries - Michael Otto Houlahan

Michael Otto Houlahan

Born: July 1, 1940
Died: November 5, 2003

Michael O. Houlahan was born in Evanston, Illinois, son of John Joseph and Deane Fackrell Houlahan. He prepared for Yale at Evanston Township High School.

At Yale Mike was an English Honors major and on the Dean's List. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Mike earned his numerals on both the Freshman football and lacrosse teams and his minor Y with J.V. Football. A member of Jonathan Edwards College, he served as chief college printer and football captain. He also played on the J.E. basketball team.

After graduation, Mike married Colleen, whom he had dated in high school. The couple then moved to Hawaii where he taught English at Punahou School in Honolulu for four years.

In 1966 they returned to Evanston where Mike earned his masters and doctoral degrees in English Literature from Northwestern University. In 1970 he joined North Park University as an English professor specializing in Shakespeare and 18th Century literature. He rose to become chairman of the English Department.

"Humor peppered his conversation all the time," said his wife, Colleen. "He could pull quotes and texts off the top of his head. He had a great drive for life, seizing every opportunity to do something or go somewhere. He made everything an event."

In 1986, Jim Hedrich, an old friend, persuaded Mike to join his family's architectural photography firm, Hedrich-Blessing, to replace its retiring administrator. After joining the company as general manager, he became partner two years later and president in 1993.

"In a short time Mike learned all about our business and our clients' businesses and connected with everyone in a way that we could never have anticipated," Hedrich said. "He had an incredible mind. His greatest asset was his heart and spirit."

Mike was involved when the Chicago Historical Society put together an exhibition three years ago that celebrated the firm's 70 year history. Noted Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman designed the exhibit and worked with Mike Houlahan for years.

"He was a guy who was brilliant and could have done anything. Instead, for all these years he did something that was amazing - he supported others," Tigerman said. "He was the guy you went to for everything at the firm. He was unbelievably self-effacing and an absolutely decent human being. A real good guy. It is a huge loss."

Mike also enjoyed traveling, writing short stories and plays, snorkeling, playing guitar, skiing and bicycling. He succumbed to esophageal cancer. At the time of his death the Chicago Triune published a feature obituary article celebrating his academic achievements and his career with Hedrich-Blessing.

He and his wife Colleen resided in Evanston. In addition to his wife, Mike was survived by his two sons, Mike and Barton; his brother, John; his sister, Deane Carlborg; and four grandchildren.